We had fun last night as Robert McDuffie took to the stage at LPR in Greenwich Village. For those who don't know, LPR is a classic New York City club… a rock club/dance club (after midnight) but what makes them unique is that the pre-late night music programming, led by Ronen Givony, that leans heavily toward classical and new music.
The club was a novelty to start: mixing art and alcohol. Now a couple years later, every classical musician knows that it's part of the deal to go down to Bleecker Street and play at LPR. It was in this environment that McDuffie offered a program as a preview to his new release of Violin Concerto No.2 "The American Four Seasons" on Orange Mountain Music.
As I mentioned in my last post, the crowd last night is almost 100% different than the crowd who will come to hear McDuffie play the concerto at Carnegie Hall on November 12th. I'm happy to report that good music, wherever it's played, has a positive effect on those in attendance.
McDuffie began with the lilting Prologue to the new concerto, then went straight into the third movement of the first Glass violin concerto. The orchestra represented on this evening by pianist Elisabeth Pridgen. Both artists are totally sensitive to how Glass' music should be played. McDuffie offered two of the four orchestral movements from the new concerto: the slow ultra-beautiful second movement, and the virtuosic dynamo final movement. The crowd loved it and McDuffie was affable and warm to those streaming out the door at the end of the night signing copies of the new CD.
In my years in the Philip Glass world I've never seen an artist more motivated, optimistic and well-organized as Robert McDuffie. In the world of classical music a new work is lucky to get 5 or 10 performances over years. The investment (including the 8 years of waiting for this concerto to arrive) permitted time for McDuffie to do the most with this opportunity. Not everyone gets a new and major work from the pencil of Philip Glass, and it's so refreshing to see someone do the most with that chance.
The piece is coming to a city near you in the next month so if you can, go. At the very least it's a chance to see an artist with total conviction in what he's doing. And that in itself is a rare thing.